The concept of social protection and its analytical framework have gradually become important tools for analysing the development of social policies globally. However, few studies have examined social protection issues in Chinese megacities. This article uses the social protection index developed by the Asian Development Bank to analyse the development of social protection in Guangzhou, a megacity. Results have shown that between 2013 and 2015, Guangzhou's soaring social protection expenditures and the ongoing improvement of social protection have significantly improved people's standard of living. Despite the narrowing gap in gross domestic product per capita between Guangzhou and developed countries, there is still a huge gap in social protection. In addition, since social policy is heavily biased towards social insurance and social assistance in Chinese megacities, there are far fewer labour market programmes developed for poor people, compared to other developed countries. The authors recommend that Guangzhou increases its social expenditures and focuses on restructuring its social protection system.